Graham Taylor unhappy with Aston Villa manager search

Alex McLeish
McLeish took in charge of Birmingham in November 2007

Former Aston Villa boss Graham Taylor has admitted he is "surprised and disappointed" at how the club have handled their search for a new manager.

Alex McLeish has emerged as the latest contender to succeed Gerard Houllier.

McLeish has been linked with a move to Villa after resigning as boss of rivals Birmingham City via email on Sunday.

But Blues say they will not accept his resignation until compensation is agreed over the remaining two-and-a-half years of his contract.

Wigan Athletic's Roberto Martinez has already rejected advances from Villa as owner Randy Lerner continues his pursuit of Houllier's replacement.

Taylor, who had two spells in charge of Villa, told BBC Sport: "It just doesn't appear to have been thought through and for the first time the ownership of the club is coming under severe criticism.

"When Gerard became ill it must have occurred to them that he may not come back, even if the signs were that he may have returned.

"This is not being disrespectful to Gerard in any way, but once he became unwell then you have to immediately start exploring what you might do if he does not come back.

"It doesn't appear to me and many others that this has been done. They seem to be going from name to name.

"Villa don't seem to have grasped that nettle at all. It is disappointing. I still live in the area and have a special feeling for them as you always do about clubs you have managed, but I have been surprised and disappointed at their handling of this."

Houllier missed the last month of the 2010/11 Premier League season because of heart problems and left the club on 1 June.

The possibility of McLeish being appointed has sparked an angry reaction from many Villa fans with an 'Aston Villa Supporters - We Don't Want Alex McLeish' Facebook page already attracting more than 5,000 names in less than 24 hours.

But Taylor insists the Scot has the personality to take on the task should he eventually be Lerner's prime target, and said: "I think Alex has the strength of character but it won't be easy for him. He has a hardness about him.

"It would be difficult though, because many Villa fans would not want a Birmingham man as their manager and many Birmingham supporters might see him as a traitor. He is a strong man though, and I think he could cope with that."